Article Image
Cindy Ma / Senior Staff Photographer

Victorious, State Sen. Adriana Espaillat cheers with supporters on Tuesday night as results are reported.

State Sen. Adriano Espaillat won Tuesday's Democratic primary for his District 31 seat, defeating former City Council member Robert Jackson and former City Council candidate Luis Tejada.

With 99.5 percent of precincts reporting as of early Wednesday morning, Espaillat received 50.3 percent of the vote. Jackson received 42.7 percent of the vote, while Tejada received 7 percent.

At his watch party at the 809 Restaurant, Bar & Grill in Washington Heights, supporters greeted a late-arriving Espaillat with chants of "Espaillat que vamos."

"The people of Washington Heights came out in great numbers, and so I'm very grateful," Espaillat said in a victory speech that was primarily in Spanish.

Still, Espaillat's victory margin on Tuesday fell short of the 2012 election, when he secured 61.7 percent of the vote. The win also comes after he lost his second bid in June to unseat Rep. Charles Rangel in the 13th Congressional District.

"I'll take the victory," Espaillat said, adding he's happy with the margin. "I ran a tough congressional race—this was a tough campaign and I'm looking forward to going back to Albany."

On 169th Street, longtime residents of the Upper West Side and Washington Heights waited for the election results with Jackson at his campaign party at Coogan's Restaurant.

"Things can change next week, they can change next month," Jackson said in his concession speech. "I'm going to try to organize and organize and organize. I'm questioning the Democratic party—leadership of the Democratic party will have to step forward and unify us all. Quite frankly I'm looking for that leadership."

Both parties were filled with smatterings of uptown politicos. Among those in Espaillat's company were City Council members Mark Levine and Ydanis Rodriguez.

"Espaillat has an incredible basis in the community. I'm excited to continue working with him," Levine, the council member for District 7, said. "We have a multiethnic coalition that spans the district. We have something very special. This win reflects that."

Other Espaillat supporters said he was the more representative choice for the community.

"Espaillat has demonstrated passion in cultivating a community—his economic and transportation policy have been heavily focused on strengthening the middle class,"  Washington Heights resident Johnny Araujo said.

"The Spanish people of New York need to improve the opportunities available to us," Washington Heights resident Diego Ayala said. "That can only happen when there is someone from within the community in office."

At Jackson's party, supporters said that Espaillat's low attendance record in Albany for votes on bills was a cause for concern. According to a New York Public Interest Research Group study, Espaillat was absent for nearly 60 percent of the votes in the 2013-14 session, making him the least-present senator in the state.

"Robert's a real Democrat, a real progressive. He always shows up," said Noah Gotbaum, a member of Community Education Council District 3 and former City Council candidate in District 6.  "His opponent hasn't showed up in Albany, and he hasn't shown up to help our kids in schools.  Robert has shown 100 percent and Adriano has not."

In addition to Gotbaum, City Council member Inez Dickens and state Assembly member Daniel O'Donnell were also present at Jackson's party.

"He's somebody who has put his money where his mouth is," O'Donnell said.  "I think the world of him."

Jackson's campaign manager, Michael Oliva, said that there were no specific plans moving forward.

"He just said to me that he's not going to deal with this bullshit for another two years," Oliva said.

Meanwhile, Jackson told Spectator of his own idea for moving forward.

"I can visualize forming a new democratic club in Northern Manhattan built on brotherhood and sisterhood and integrity," he said.

Elena Burger, Aaron Fisher, Robert Godfried, Claudia Lobenthal, Ari Malik, and Nancy You contributed reporting.

news@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ColumbiaSpec

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Espaillat's supporters chanted "Espaillat te amo" at the victory party. Supporters actually chanted "Espaillat que vamos." Spectator regrets the error.

Adriano Espaillat Robert Jackson 2014 Elections City Politics politics State Senate
ADVERTISEMENT
Newsletter